Moray war of words over vote to narrow the gender pay gap

A row has broken out over a vote that was aimed at forcing companies to put in place equal pay measures for their staff.

Moray’s MP Angus Robertson has strongly criticised local Labour councillor Sean Morton for writing to him ahead of the vote on a Labour motion at the UK Parliament over equal pay.

Councillor Morton, who will face Mr Robertson in the UK General Election next year, challenge the MP to support a Labour motion seeking transparency on equal pay for any employer with more than 250 employees.

Replying to Mr Morton ahead of the vote, Mr Robertson pledged to support the motion – however, he has now hit back at the Councillor, pointing out that while all SNP MP’s were present to back the motion at Westminster a number of Labour MP’s were absent – including Scottish Labour’s new leader, Jim Murphy.

Mr Robertson said: “My SNP colleagues and I totally agreed with this motion and we voted in favour of it this week.

“Equal Pay is an important issue that requires significant efforts to resolve it. It is more than a little ironic that despite a Moray Labour Councillor writing to me asking me to vote that he would have been better writing to his own party leader in Scotland and the other Labour MPs who did not bother to turn up.

“More than a quarter of Scottish Labour MPs failed to show at this vote. It is entirely obvious that Equal Pay is an important issue and my question to Moray Labour is what is their explanation for the lack of support from their Scottish Labour colleagues in this vote?

“I would hope that given they took the time to raise this important issue with me that they will now be writing to all their Labour colleagues who did not vote seeking an explanation and telling the public why.”

Last night Councillor Morton hit back, insisting that it was a regular “deception” of the SNP to ignore a long standing agreement in the House of Commons.

He said: “The SNP regularly try this little deception when Scottish Labour MPs are not in the House of Commons.

“Labour MPs can get permission to miss a vote as long as there is agreement that a Tory will also miss the vote as well. This means that the outcome of the vote is not affected by their absence.

“It’s a practice that means MPs can spend more time in their constituencies and get out of the Westminster bubble.

“There are two ironies here – first that SNP MPs like to spend so much time out of their constituencies and in London. The second is that the SNP spent a lot of time talking about a new consensus style of politics.

“Just last week we were agreeing on equal pay now Angus is trying to turn our common ground into a battle ground.

“People expect more – so I’m hopeful that as we near the election he keeps things positive – and for what it’s worth, I thank him for his support of the Labour motion on Equal Pay.”

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